Perth South votes to support application for solar array at former Robica grounds

By Dan Rankin
At a special meeting of council held yesterday morning, Perth South council voted to support entrepreneur Manfred Loerzel’s application to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), seeking a Feed-in Tariff contract to install rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels at the Perth Road 125 facility that formerly housed the Robica truck plant.
At the regular council meeting Sept. 15, alongside Perth County director of planning Allan Rothwell, Loerzel presented a request for support of a solar project on behalf of 2329433 Ontario Limited (the new owners of the Robica property). The proposal included two solar components: a rooftop component of 472 panels that would produce 200 kw and a ground component of 25 panels that would produce 250 kw.
Loerzel was asking council to sign a municipal council support resolution for both projects.
“The Feed-in tariff project which the province runs operates on a points basis,” Rothwell said. “There are additional points which each applicant gets if there is municipal support for it, among other things.”
Feeling they had not had enough time to consider the issue, Council requested staff further investigate the proposal before they would decide to support the project. As Loerzel’s deadline to submit his application is Sept. 30 and Council’s next regular meeting is Oct. 6, a special meeting was scheduled for yesterday morning.
In the time provided to staff and council between Sept. 15 and yesterday, neighbours to the Robica property were consulted to ensure they were aware of and in favour of such a project.
“They got a lot of input from the residents,” said Perth South CAO Tim Ivanyshyn. “All-in-all it seems okay. The applicant is going to meet the requirements. He doesn’t want to be a bad neighbour. Council was satisfied council had no other real issues.”
Council voted to support Loerzel’s application after he ensured them he would obey the township’s setback bylaws and keep the solar panels far enough back from property lines, as well as planting trees and hedging for aesthetics.
Coun. Melilnda Zurbrigg was in favour of supporting the application on Sept. 15, prior to the special meeting. “I think this is a gentleman who has purchased this property and is hoping to bring some industry into Perth South,” she said. “We all know it’s got to be revisited several times if and when he gets the green light from the IESO.”
Should Loerzel be successful in the highly-competitive application process, “We’d have to have a formal meeting with our neighbours once we got the contract,” he said. “If anyone objects to what we’re doing it’s dead in the water and we’re done.”